St. Patricks Stream - Sun 26 Jun 2016
A small group of 4 (Shep, Al, Tim & Lindsay) headed down in 2 cars taking 3 shorts and a SOT on a Sunday day trip. When we arrived at the George and Dragon at 11am the staff said they didn’t mind us parking there. On the water at 11:45 and paddled upstream. Lots of boats since it was nice weather and the level was high (we’ve had some good rain in recent weeks) so the going was noticeable against the flow but manageable.
Upstream Headed up to the left of Shiplake Lock for the pontoon (before the weir) which looks almost private. The portage is short (up and over the island). Following the river round there are two big islands which if you keep to the right, the flow is slower than in the main river. After the next smaller island you need to look for the entrance to St. Patrick’s stream which has noticed that its “not navigable by launches”. It’s quite pretty and feels like you’re exploring but it can get quite overgrown in there so might not be suitable in some places for an open boat without really pushing it through. Watch out as well for fisherman as you wind through.
As you carry through you enter the River Loddon (which you could have entered from the main river – actually we didn’t spot the entrance!) and from other trip reports its possible to practice some gentle ferry gliding or breaking in or out. Again we were probably too busy talking to notice this as a “feature”… something for next time! Some nice houses to look at in the stretch as you eventually paddle or drift with the gentle flow (if you can't be bothered to paddle!) out back into the main river. The a quick drink back down to the pub. We had a pint to go with our lunch on the low level (they only serve food inside or on the terraces). Toilet facilities useful!
Downstream After a failed attempt to seal launch Tim’s Sit On Top … and making a quick repair with a plastic tie (Note: even 2 or 3 loose ones can be handy in your kit!) we headed downstream off the main river into Willow Marina and then into Hennerton Backwater. Here you have to go under a very low bridge (maybe just low on this occasion due to the high water levels) so again, may not be suitable with an open. Not sure if you can go around but might only be tight rather than impassable in an open. Then you’re in the water at the bottom of some HUGE impressive houses – look out for the driftwood horse sculture. We guessed at how these voted in the Referendum! It’s probably about 3 short boat lengths wide and again you can drift along with gentle flow. Watch out for the angry Doberman at one house on the left – lucky he doesn’t swim! At the bottom the Backwater opens out into the main river and it really didn’t take long to get here so you might be able to have a play along this section (time permitting).
At the main river but we decided to carry on down a bit more as we weren’t ready to get off yet! Then backup stream keeping to the right past more desirable habitats and cross back to the pub again to get out. We were off the water at 4.30 so decided to have dinner there. Main meal and a drink each came to £20 a head. Wasn’t bad.